Experiencing More Symptoms When You're Depressed
Last updated: August 2021
Content Warning: Please know that within this article are themes of depression, mental health, suicidal ideation, and treatment.
If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish at 800-273-8255.
Like many other people, in the last 2 years living in the conditions we are in, many of us have experienced a deeper place in our depression, for many reasons. Some of us hate being confined just to one space, some of us are extremely overwhelmed spending 24/7 with the friends and family deeply love, but still - too much of a good thing can get stagnant if you don’t respond well to crisis.
It's ok to struggle
It’s OK to struggle. It’s OK to acknowledge and seek the help you need before things take a more serious turn.
Some of us were already struggling with depression before this all started. Some of us are struggling a bit more than normal. Some people are experiencing depression for the first time.
You are not alone
I think it’s really important to first address that though depression can feel like you’re the only one in the world struggling - you’re not. I think it’s really important to also acknowledge that everyone copes and reacts to mental health differently. There is no wrong way to cope with depression except for one thing - not talking about it with a professional. Being evaluated by a mental health professional to see if you would benefit from therapy or medication or both is always a good idea. All around the world, therapy is more recognized as being the norm vs. not going to therapy. We’re getting better at recognizing symptoms, but still, it’s up to the patient to make the first step to make sure it’s addressed with their provider.
The beginning of COVID and my depression
For me, personally, my depression began to get a lot worse when the US had its first cases of COVID-19. I’d developed a case in late February 2020. Because of my previous health history, including migraines and hemiplegic migraines, I really had a difficult path to recovery. It lasted several months for me. I was extremely depressed, weak, and felt very confined, even though I spend most of my days at home already. It was a scary time and a lot of my health conditions were affected throughout those months.
My migraine attacks worsen with depression
One of the most important things for me, when I’m becoming more depressed or experiencing a really bad bout (way more than normal) is to ensure I’m talking to my psychiatrist and also speaking with my neurologist. With depression, my migraines seem to get worse and I can’t just “catch up” on sleep. I immediately called and talked to my doctor before things got worse, and they did, to try and prevent things from getting worse. When I would wake up every day with a migraine and wake up in the middle of the night with one, it was really wearing down my mental health.
I was struggling
Even though I had made that first step and called my providers, I was still struggling severely - with both my depression and my migraines. I did come to a point during all of this, where I needed to seek inpatient psychiatric treatment because I was struggling so much. It was the best thing for me at the time. I was put on a different combination of psych medications, treated every day with IV fluids as well as truly getting as much rest as I needed.
Getting help during a pandemic
Mind you, the world is in the middle of a pandemic, so everyone on that floor was masked up, there was a certain number of people that could be in each room and if you wore glasses, they fogged up and just made things including migraines that much more frustrating. I knew meeting with my psych each day while in the hospital that my body truly needed to rest, and if that involved me staying in my room the whole time, that was OK with my care team. I was encouraged to go to at least one social group session of therapy a day if I wasn't sleeping at the time, which was still exponentially weird. Everyone wearing masks and not truly being able to engage socially to their best capacity during sessions hindered some of my sessions and we rerouted my therapy so that I wouldn't become frustrated.
Going to a psychiatric facility
Ultimately, yes, I took me seeking inpatient treatment at a psychiatric facility that I've been to before to address my mental and physical needs. I wasn't ashamed, I never have been ashamed. And I'm here; sharing some of my story, telling you that if I had not sought treatment, I would not be here today.
Migraines themselves are known to cause or be a precursor for depression; it's hard to get diagnosed. It's hard to be put through the wringer of what medications DO work vs. the list of ones you try that end up not working for you.
Such an important factor in these situations - Remember, do not carry the guilt of medications not working. You didn't fail the medication(s) - the medication(s) failed you.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?